Summer Treats on Wheels!

My Real Memoir

Along with camping and roller rinks, I associate summer with delivery trucks. Huh? Sure, delivery guys were there year-round; the proverbial off-color tease was to suggest a particular young and attractive mom’s kids looked “an awful lot like the milkman.”

But the delivery guys ramped up their rounds when the school year ended. Why? Because we’d be outside, playing in the sprinklers or Slip-n-Sliding, see them coming, and run into the house, shouting, “Mom! The [insert-irresistible-treat-of-choice] truck is here!”

The Helm’s Bakery truck would stop in front of our suburban SoCal house with a distinctive whistle. Then the bow-tied Helm’s Guy would stroll to the back, tip his hat, throw open the doors leading to the magical Kingdom of Baked Delights, and slide open those mystical drawers filled with cookies and pastries! I always–always–got a chocolate macaroon (two if Mom would let me).

Good Humor Bars! Believe it or not, ice-cream trucks didn’t begin with the Creation of the world (“And behold, it was good!”). Rather, exactly one hundred years ago, a Youngstown, Ohio, confectioner invented the Good Humor Bar, the first chocolate-covered ice cream bar. But how to deliver it? “I know!” said his son. “Put it on a stick!” They also created the popsicle-on-a-stick (some had two sticks for sharing!). And, yes, they invented the ice cream truck, with its endlessly-repeating nursery rhyme blasting from a roof-top horn, drawing children like Pavlov’s puppies. (“And behold it was good!”)

Books! Books? Yep. What better thing to do while munching a macaroon or aspirating a push-up pop than to treat your mind, as well? I’m pretty sure Paperback Guy was self-employed. He didn’t wear a bow tie or a snappy cap, and he drove a rocket-finned Oldsmobile instead of a van. But it had a swimming pool-sized trunk, and every inch of that trunk was crammed with paperback books! He’d buy back our used-used paperbacks and sell us new-used paperbacks for 10¢ a piece! Paperback Guy introduced me to the steampunk worlds of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, the wistful Mississippi River of Tom and Huck, the swashbuckling France of The Three Musketeers, and the frozen Yukon of Call of the Wild. While others fed my stomach, he fed my imagination!

I still love macaroons, ice cream bars (only now the gourmet type), and most of all, books! So, thank you…

Summer Treat Delivery Guys!

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Books, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Summer Treats on Wheels!

  1. Pingback: Shakespeare on Roller Skates | Mitch Teemley

  2. simba frank says:

    For a moment there I thought you said Summer Threats 😂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Mark Johnson says:

    Love it, Mitch! In the early 60s (hot summers in suburban St. Louis before AC), we chased the Pevely Dairy delivery truck up our cul-de-sac street screaming “ICE!” On occasion, the driver obliged and dropped a large block of the frozen stuff into the street to humor and soothe us.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. We had the Good Humor truck and the Helms truck and Foremost Milk, too!… but Paperback Guy? Oh how I wish we had had a Paperback Guy on our street!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Mitch
    Great book choices, summer or anytime.
    A Separate Peace, which I have several times over several decades, still
    teaches me important lessons about people, friendship and life!
    Brad

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Andy Oldham says:

    It is a shame our kids and grandkids miss out on the joy we had growing up! Thanks for stoking a great memory!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. murisopsis says:

    The ice cream truck didn’t come to our neighborhood but there was a guy with a big ice chest mounted on the front of his bike who would pedal through the neighborhood selling ice cream. He was always sweating so he really enjoyed opening the ice chest and sticking his head inside to look for the requested treat! No paperback guy but we’d ride bikes to the library and then balance stacks of books on the handlebars for the ride home!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My brother and I never did manage to persuade our parents to get us a Slip ‘n’ Slide. Sigh . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  9. trE says:

    And now, I want an ice cream truck ice cream bar. Lol. Prayerfully, a chocolate eclair. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  10. M.B. Henry says:

    We used to love chasing the iced cream truck on our bicycles! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Do you remember chipping ice to munch on from the milk delivery trucks?

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thanks again, Mitch! Your story is my story (with only minor revisions); e.g. while my boyhood home had no AC, its cellar (averaging 72ºF / 22ºC) did keep us cool even during Michigan’s worst heatwaves. And, even tho we had no drive-by Paperback Guy, the same literary gems were readily available; all for free (uh, unless library late fees kicked in).

    (btw, due to connection issues, this may post more than once).

    Liked by 2 people

  13. rwfrohlich says:

    Perhaps a decade earlier, the 50s, in New York we had the same guys although some of the names were different. And we got our ice from the ice man who delivered block ice to those who still had an ice box instead of a modern refrigerator. In my earliest memories, he did not have a truck: he rode a horse drawn wagon. Yes, I am that old.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. beth says:

    One of my favorite things

    Liked by 2 people

  15. K.L. Hale says:

    How fun, Mitch! I loved our ice cream man and he shears carried bomb pops and push-ups! Two of my favs! We did have the Book Mobile that visited our tiny rural town once a month. I’d like to bring the book mobile back! I often though of doing that in my RV (The “Roving Reader”!)! I like the line you wrote about having your mind and body fed by good stuff! I love love love Little Women and Call of the Wild!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. leendadll says:

    I didn’t live in a Helms area. Nor good humor.. only generic ice cream for us! I never heard of paperback sales like that before.

    I remember watching my mom shop from the Fuller Brush Man.

    My neighbor’s house has a small vintage milk delivery door (last owners walled over the inside. I WANT IT SO MUCH!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Damyanti Biswas says:

    Oh wow, I did not see that coming 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  18. southernhon1 says:

    Yes! The Good Humor man and the Bookmobile! My father was dead set against buying us treats from the Good Humor man because according to him, “You’re paying for his gas!” I understood that concept; however, the lure of the ice cream was too much. I scraped together some change and bought the cheapest thing he had, which was usually a popsicle or a Push up. Great memories!!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Nancy Ruegg says:

    The ice cream truck, dairy truck, and bread truck–all were part of my early childhood too. Alas, no Paperback Guy, but the library wasn’t far away. Dad took me before I could walk there myself. I reveled in Beverly Cleary’s books–her early ones about Beezuz & Ramona and Henry Huggins, also the Bobbsey Twins series, Nancy Drew, and the Sugar Creek Gang. Loved mysteries and biographies too. While devouring all these books, I devoured a lot of popcorn as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. usfman says:

    The ice cream man is timeless. Even 50 years later, I wait for the pleasant circus like music coming from their vehicles as they make their rounds around our condo facility, It’s never been just about ice cream the free embrace of summer’s call.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. ScubaHankNYC says:

    A similar Good Humor truck would visit my neighborhood when I was a kid. By that time, the uniform was no longer mandatory. However, I would remember dashing home to obtain loose change before the ice cream truck moved on.

    It’s a shame – many cities and town now encourage people to report sounds coming from ice cream trucks as noise complaints.

    “You can report music or jingle from an ice cream truck that is parked, standing, or stopped. Ice cream trucks may only play music or jingles when they are moving.” https://portal.311.nyc.gov/article/?kanumber=KA-01097

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Terveen Gill says:

    What else could anyone ask for? Just what a child or an adult could need. Sweet treats indeed! Especially the books. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Dawn Marie says:

    Island of the Blue Dolphins…still re-reading it @ the beginning of every summer, several decades since the first. Except not in the crock of a Chinese-Chestnut tree, where only the melody of the ice-cream truck could woe me down from the limb & away from those sweet pages of heroic survival, heart-ache & bravery. Now it’s the sound of a grandchild asking their Oma to put down HER book to instead read one of theirs to them (instead.) Luckily, a popsicle from the fridge at times accompanies such interruptions. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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